BLENNZ Learning Library

Te Kotuituinga Mātauranga Pura o Aotearoa

Teaching braille to a student with low vision

July 30, 2016 by blennzict | 0 comments

Ethan sitting at a classroom table with Perkins brailler

Figure 1 – Ethan is brailling at school

Ethan is a 9 year old student currently in Year 4 and attends his local school.  He has a significant eye condition which greatly impacts on his accessing the curriculum especially with literacy.

Ethan is able to use enlarged readers and worksheets at some points during the school day but can become visually fatigued.

Marg Crosswell talks about how Ethan’s main goal for this year has been to learn braille and so he has been practising brailling the alphabet on the Perkins brailler (figure 1).

Learning the alphabet

A page of braille with animals at the bottom

Figure 2 – Ethan’s first full page of braille

Ethan has learnt the alphabet and 59 shortform words, the fullstop, capital letter and the number sign.

He is starting to learn to read braille using made up worksheets. Figure 2 is Ethan’s first full page of braille.

Prerequisite skills

  • Correct finger placement on the Perkins Brailler.
  • Separation of fingers.
  • Correct pressure on the keys.

Possible next steps

  • To learn all whole word signs.
  • To learn all shortform words , lower cells and common combinations.
  • To write full sentences in grade one braille.
  • To read braille using two hands.
  • To trial using different technology i.e. braille note.

Teaching methods and strategies

Ethan followed a direct instruction approach.  This involves introducing the braille alphabet in a specific way.

Learning adaptations

Braille cell in top right corner of pegboard

Figure 3 – A pegboard is being used to show a braille cell

The programme involves teaching the braille alphabet first. Ethan’s learning style meant he learnt and remembered the different letters of the alphabet by saying the dot number. ie for y 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 or sometimes he would say k and 4, 5, 6.

Using different medium ie peg board with six pegs. Brailled single letter and word cards.

Figure 3 shows a different medium using a peg board with six pegs.


A braille checklist was used as part of the assessment. Ethan went up to Homai for a week with the National Assessment Service team to get an updated record of his vision. At this assessment it became evident that braille had become a good option.

Professional Readings and Resources:

More information

Email us at BLENNZ for more information about this subject. We will link you up with either the author of this post or another BLENNZ colleague with whom you can continue your conversation.

Primary student develops daily living skills

February 4, 2014 by blennzict | 0 comments

Wikitoria in class

Figure 1 Wikitoria in class

Wikitoria is 10 years old and she attends a large primary school in her local area.  She is a 0.1 ORS student on the BLENNZ roll.  In figure 1 Wikitoria is in class.

Wikitoria is working with her BLENNZ Resource Teacher Vision (RTV), Robyn Black to her improve literacy skills.

Specific areas of focus during their weekly sessions include comprehension and following instructions.  As well as learning to follow written instructions Wikitoria is also learning to problem solve and interpret information. Continue Reading →

Preparation for Transition to University

July 21, 2013 by blennzict | 0 comments

Áine in an independent work environment at school

Figure 1 Áine in her “office”

Áine is in Year 13 in a mainstream secondary school.  In preparation for attending university in 2013, she is working with her RTV, Jenny McFadden to ensure a smooth transition.

In figure 1 we see Áine in her “office”, an independent work environment at school. Continue Reading →

Early reading experiences for a tactile learner

April 10, 2013 by blennzict | 0 comments

Jacob reading tactile bookJacob is a 4 year old who attends his local kindergarten. He has limited vision and a profound hearing impairment and explores his world through the tactile system.

Jacob is learning how to access literacy through tactile collage pictures and braille.

Here his Resource Teacher of Vision, Leanne Stubbing talks about how she supports him in his learning. Continue Reading →

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